1 Peter 3:19 says that Jesus preached unto spirits in prison; are these spirits associated with the angels of 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 1:6? If not who were the spirits that He preached to?
There are two key points to pick up on in 1 Peter 3.19-20, bold here:
The author is talking about:
Because of this cross-section, we have a very narrow context to work with, which restricts what the author could possibly be referring to. Let's compare this to the subject matter of 2 Peter 2.4-10, as suggested in the original question. While the language is not at all identical, we find ourselves in the same cross-section:
While it is generally agreed among critical scholars that the author of 1 Peter was not the same author of 2 Peter, this overlap in content is quite similar.
Second Peter most probably borrowed from the epistle of Jude, which, in turn, definitely borrowed from the apocryphal 1 Enoch,1 which contains an lengthy elaboration of Genesis 6.1-4, hitting all of the same marks that we find in 1 Peter 3.19-20.
What or why Jesus is preaching to these spirits is one question, but based on that cross-section, we should understand the author to be referring to the angels that sinned in Genesis 6.1-4, as also according to the Jewish tradition we find represented in 2 Peter, Jude, and 1 Enoch, among other books from the Second Temple period.
1 I take this for granted, as do most critical scholars. See this answer to a related question.
The question as I understand it is,"Are pneuma the same as aggelos"?
To answer that question, one must understand the triparte being that man is:(1 Thess. 5:23)
We 'live' in a body-our earthly tabernacle, we manifest our life through our soul, our 'pneuma' is the life of God(Gen. 2:7):
"And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."
Therefore, men are living "spirits"(pneuma), who express their life through their souls, and are housed in a physical body until they die.
An "aggelos" is not an heir of salvation:(Heb. 1:14)
"Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?"
They 'dwell' in God's Presense continually-therefore, they are not needing 'salvation', they are ministers of salvation to those who believe.
'But what about those who rebelled, isn't that what this text(1 Pet. 3:19) refering to?
Matt. 25:41 says,
"Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."
Hell(everlasting fire) was prepared for Satan(the devil) and his angels-their judgement was immediate, there was no "waiting" for a Great White Throne Judgement. It's the souls w/the 'pneuma' of God who await their destiny at the Great White Throne Judgement.(Matt. 25:31)
Who were the spirits that He preached to?
There are several interpretations of 1 Perter 3:19. I won’t go into detail on each view but let me list them here and then I will explain which one I hold.
It is my stance that the verse is most clearly interpreted by cross-referencing Isaiah, looking at the context in which Peter wrote (i.e. specifically to whom did he write this to) and trying not to tie in the interpretations of (2 Peter 2:4, and Jude 1:6) which uphold sub-view 3 most strongly.
The key to me is the preceding verse in 1 Peter 3:18 (emphasis mine):
For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
The use of the word us in “that he might bring us to God” signifies the object, the human object, not fallen-angels of the next statement. Peter, a Jew, was still living in a world view held by the Jewish communities that God was for the Jews and no one else. It was still hard for the Jewish mind to let go of their selfish exclusivity on God and even the Gospel not to mention the Laws they lived by. He was reaching out to both Jewish and Gentile “elect” as we see in the first of his letter to whom it was addressed “…to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia…”
This letter encourages the Elect in the audience — the mainly “gentile” audience — of these areas of the world. The gospel is preached to these folk who were by Jewish eyes those people who were “unclean” and sat in “outer darkness” of the ignorance of the true God.
Finally, let’s look at Isaiah who many years before prophesied of this exact occurrence in which Peter and others were bringing about through the preaching of the Gospel to the Gentile world.
I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;
To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, [and] them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.
This is the best example of God’s grace being shed upon the unbelieving world at large which sat in ignorance obeying their lusts which imprisoned them. This gospel should bring together all people regardless of ethnicity and at that time of Peter’s writing it was still a radical idea to think that Gentiles were worthy of hearing or could even hear the good news.
I hope this helps you and you can consider this view and hopefully it makes sense. Blessings.